Like many others, I have been left reeling since switching on the news that Friday morning. Whether you voted Leave or Remain the ramifications of that decision were instantly felt and the collective sense of anxiety and unease has increased daily.
Alongside this, we now see an increase in racist hate-crime and a spike in racist language towards minority ethnic members of our community. As a black woman I've witnessed the difference on social media, with far-right trolls gaining confidence in their vile commentary. There is an amplified and aggressive belligerence around issues pertaining to immigration and to those deemed 'other'. The UK political climate is turbulent and steady voices are needed to calm the murky UK waters.
I am the founder and CEO of RECLAIM, a Manchester charity that supports young people from working class communities in developing their leadership potential. Our young people are critical thinkers, they are hungry for social change. They fight for society to be the best that it can be to guarantee them a fairer future. RECLAIM has a bold mission to end leadership inequality - to ensure a diversity of faces and voices at the top so that the right decisions are made for all, by all.
Our young, engaged, energetic pioneers, many of whom are too young to vote, have watched the referendum unfold from afar. They are now shocked at the speed at which the climate has changed and the worst elements of our society have become exposed. When football fans are rampaging on French streets, morons on public transport are shouting at people to go back to their own countries and Polish residents are in tears with fear for their futures, our young people have responded in a way that has reaffirmed my faith in human compassion.
They have high hopes for their future and now, the realisation that they are the ones who can lead change. They insist upon it and call for adults to join them in loudly condemning all racist and fascist activity; for our leaders and all members of the community to effectively tackle violence, bullying and intimidation. Our Salford Boys, 13-year-old boys the majority of whom were white working class, wrote in their 2015 Manifesto: 'Take opportunities ourselves, don't blame immigrants for doing so'. Our young people refuse to be scapegoated as racists and reject the far right's poison.
Our young people will be launching their campaign of unity called #TeamHope in the next few weeks. Their future vision is one where unity comes first. Our Manchester multicultural group of teenagers will illustrate their vision for a country that feels like the home they want. They will be calling on adults to share their optimism and support their social movement.
At a time when we look for courageous voices we must listen to our young people. Many feel that their futures are being decided by adults whilst they're on the other side of the door waiting to deal with the consequences. This is the time to see and hear what UK young people are saying. They fully reject a future filled with fear, suspicion and hate. They call for kindness, unity, acceptance and collective positive action. They are demanding that we, as adults, do better.
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